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Swimmers Face Dirtier Summer Beaches

Westport’s beaches will be cleaned only once or twice a week this summer, down from three times a week last year. Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy blamed the change on staff reductions. Three positions have been cut in the past two years. “We’ll do the best we can but no doubt people will notice the difference,” McCarthy said. “Right now, when people go out in the morning, the beach looks beautiful. It is clean and looks like it has been hand raked. People just aren’t going to get that anymore.”

The maintenance staff will give precedence to Compo Beach. Burying Hill Beach and Canal Beach will be cleaned less often. At Compo, resident parking passes and visitor day passes generate several hundred thousand dollars a year, McCarthy said.

The RTM Finance Committee proposed a $208,300 reduction in McCarthy’s budget this year. At the public hearings on April 20, McCarthy asked that $60,000 be restored. That’s not enough to restore a staff position, he said, but would be used elsewhere.

At Compo Beach, yesterday, Oliver Schiff, 9, said the beach looked pretty clean. But on second thought, “I saw a cigarette in the sand and some bottle caps in the water. Oh, and a glass bottle over there.”  Oliver had his own idea for keeping the beaches clean: put up signs and enforce litter laws. If people picked up after themselves, he said, the town wouldn’t need to clean the beaches so often anyway.

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